Ice Fishing on Etive

Stunning day on Etive
Stunning day on Etive

Well, yesterday was one of these days that reminds you why you bother to go fishing in mid-winter. It started before 5 when I left Edinburgh in the midst of a mini-snowstorm, which fortunately petered out quickly as I drove inland, and by the time Alcatraz hit the water in Etive it was a lovely cold and crisp winter morning. I’d had good fishing the fortnight before, so was hopeful of repeating the trick on similar tides.

I spent most of the morning down the loch, but with little to show for things – a few small spurdog and a single ray – so it was time to see how the upper loch was fishing. Having fired up the engine I pointed Alcatraz back the way she had come a few hours earlier, and then up into the deep water and high mountains lying inland from Bonawe, home to more otters than humans. Well up the loch and near to Barrs I started to encounter patches of thin ice on the water, some of which were quite large at 50-100 yards across. Fortunately they were very thin and the boat cut through them easily, with only a soft swishing noise, but it did show just how cold it had been.

Happily the fish lying almost 300 feet below didn’t seem to care about the surface temperature and started hitting my mackerel baits almost immmediately. Almost all of them, bar a couple of whiting and a lonely doggie, were spurdogs. The same way as a fortnight ago there were a handful of decent fish and loads of 2-4lbers, and (thankfully) none of the real micro fish that can sometimes be a complete nuisance. Eventually the fishing died off a bit, but not before I’d added another 26 or 27 spurs to the total haul. The best made a little under 9.5lbs with another half a dozen in the 6-7lb category. A few ended up being landed through an ice floe – look closely at the pic of one in the water and you can see its snout breaking through the ice.

I packed in fishing at the back of 4 and headed inshore to practice my mooring techniques (looking ahead to summer camping trips!), and also take a few more photos of the loch. A short final drift whilst I sorted out my gear added a couple more small spurdog before heading home in the last of the evening afterglow.

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